8 Genealogy Goals for 2016

With January almost gone it is perhaps a little late to be setting out genealogy goals for 2016. However this will be my first article of the year, and I did write these goals (on the back of an envelope!) at the beginning of the month, so I am going to share my ‘direction of travel’ for the rest of the year.

For 2015 I set myself 10 genealogy goals which were mostly very specific and easy to measure. In my review of how I did, towards the end of December, I also considered how I might take things forward in 2016. I have not been idle since then (as followers of my Atcherley.org.uk Facebook page will know), but for various reasons I have not been as productive as I would like to be this year and I suspect that may remain the case for a while longer. My genealogy goals for this year are therefore fewer in number, and a lot less ‘SMART’ than they were last year. They fall into three categories: Research, Website, and Giving Back.


Goal 1: Make full use of the 1939 Register (and electoral registers) in order to find out more about the Atcherley family members who were living in the second half of the 1800s and the first half of the 1900s

I have already made progress with this goal, having paid a second visit to The National Archives at Kew for the sole purpose of viewing more 1939 Register entries. As Findmypast has since announced that access to the 1939 Register will, from 16 February 2016, be part of their 12 month full UK or World subscription packages, I will soon be able to use this amazing source of information without paying for expensive credits or taking trips to Kew. Findmypast also has around 500 results for Atcherley in its collection of historic electoral registers which I have yet to explore fully.

electoral register

Goal 2: Make greater use of wills written by Atcherleys and members of allied families to reveal, and share, the Atcherley family stories they contain

Thanks to the Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills at Ancestry, Diocese of Lichfield and Coventry wills and probate records at Findmypast, and wills from Welsh Dioceses on the National Library of Wales website, I already have copies of many wills written by Atcherley family members, and others, for the years up to 1858. I need to do more with these, by making transcripts and/or abstracts, and sharing the information within them via this website (also via the Probate Index of the Guild of One Name Studies). I want to start exploring post-1858 wills too, which (for England and Wales) can be ordered via Find a will or probate at the Gov.UK website.

Goal 3: Order more BMD certificates to ‘fill in gaps’ and add to my knowledge about how the Atcherleys lived – and died

The General Register Office (GRO) of England and Wales is – with the speed one would expect from a Government body – working towards making birth, marriage and death registrations available to researchers in new (and hopefully less expensive) ways. It is likely to be quite some time before we see changes agreed on and put into effect, so there is little point holding back from purchasing BMD certificates which are likely to provide information which is unlikely to be found elsewhere. I intend to identify and add to my collection at least 10 certificates during the course of 2016, not necessarily restricting myself to those from the GRO (like the one from which the extract shown below is taken). I have in fact, during the course of writing this, ordered and downloaded a copy of the Victoria, Australia, marriage register entry for Stephen Atcherley and Louisa Hobday!

Atcherley, Jessie Elizabeth - birth certificate

Goal 4: Explore in more detail my own genetic genealogy and that of the Atcherley family

I wrote about my first foray into the world of DNA and genetic genealogy back on 2 June 2015, and launched the Atcherley Surname DNA Project a few weeks later on 15 August. Since then, I have accumulated many interesting matches for my own DNA, and there have been some very interesting developments in the Atcherley Surname DNA Project. Now I want to see if I can push things to the ‘next level’. In respect of my own DNA results, I need to start looking at autosomal DNA triangulation to see if I can match some of my DNA segments with particular ancestors (persuading some known descendants of those ancestors to take autosomal tests would help enormously!). And for the Atcherley DNA project, I need to recruit more participants, and not just men with the surname Atcherley. Men with the surname Atchley, it seems, may also have a part to play.


Goal 5: Write another 30 articles / stories for Atcherley.org.uk

This was my goal last year, and although I exceeded it there were many things that helped, such as having a lot of unused annual leave to take, and the good fortune of finding the many different pieces of Robert Atcherley Taylor’s amazing story to weave into a seven part epic. Given my slow start this year, another 30 articles / stories may prove to be a challenge. I will count extensive rewrites of existing articles towards the total (and have two or three such rewrites in mind). As for subjects, there are many existing stories in need of sequels, and even prequels. There are still quite a few World War 1 – and World War 2 – stories to write; some of the latter may be inspired by findings from my 1939 Register research. And while it is easier to find stories about Atcherley men, and to write stories about the Atcherleys who led particularly interesting lives, I want to ensure that the Atcherley women are not ignored, and that the Atcherleys who led ‘ordinary’ lives are remembered too.

Goal 6: Double the number of people in the Atcherley Family Tree

One of my reasons for adding the Atcherley Family Tree to Atcherley.org.uk was that it gave me scope to add many more people besides the Atcherleys – including descendants of females lines, and families of spouses – without having to manually add a huge number of additional pages to the site. Currently (30 January 2016) the tree has 798 people, of whom 538 were born with the surname Atcherley. I have 5900 people in my offline, extended Atcherley family tree on RootsMagic, so there is plenty of scope to add to the online tree! Let’s see if I can get the number in that online tree up to 1600 or thereabouts by the end of December.

Giving Back

Goal 7: Contribute photos to Billion Graves

Last year, in an attempt to be less of a taker and more of a giver of free family history stuff online, transcribed 1,000 names from photographs of gravestones at Billion Graves. Having bought a decent smartphone and downloaded the Billion Graves app, my aim is to start adding my own images to that website this year.


Goal 8: Contribute to the journal of the Shropshire Family History Society

One of my 10 goals for 2015 was to re-join the Shropshire Family History Society. In noting that this goal had been achieved in my December update, I added: “Maybe in 2016 I will contribute to the society’s journal?” So now I have made doing this a goal for 2016. Of course, achieving my goal will depend on the SFHS accepting what I offer them!

And finally …

On my original, back-of-an-envelope list of genealogy goals for this year, I included “Do less family history!” The reasoning behind this was to make it an official goal to ‘get out more’ and recharge my batteries by taking a break from researching and writing. It’s really not a genealogy goal, quite the opposite in fact, so I’m not including it as one here. But, despite my dodgy knee and somewhat arthritic back, my seemingly incurable addiction to family history, and my challenging goal of writing 30 more articles for this website, I will try to tear myself away from the computer screen and enjoy the sights and sounds of the local countryside more often in 2016!

Picture credits. Extract from electoral register: Photo by the author. Extract from GRO birth certificate for Jessie Elizabeth Atcherley: Image posted in compliance with General Register Office copyright guidance. Graveyard: Photo by the author.

10 Genealogy Goals for 2015 – an update

Back on 1 January this year I set out 10 Genealogy Goals for 2015, a family historian’s ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. “What could possibly go wrong?” I asked (being all too aware of the reasons why I usually refrain from making grand plans). In the event, for the most part things did not go horribly wrong, and I am claiming a success rate of 9 out of 10 goals achieved. As for the tenth, unachieved goal, well that was (as you will see) overtaken by events.

Setting goals for 2015 did help to focus my energies on the things I wanted to achieve during the year. I updated my original Genealogy Goals article with progress reports as I went along, which helped to remind me what I had completed and what remained to be done. Now I have returned that article to its original state, by stripping out the updates and pulling them together here, in this final overview of the year’s achievements. In looking back at what has been accomplished in 2015, I will also look at what work lies ahead in 2016.

1. Write at least 30 new articles for this website

Goal achieved. I added the 30th new article of 2015 to this website on 10 July 2015 – that total was exclusive of the Genealogy Goals article with which I opened the year. I didn’t stop there of course, and went on to add a further 10 articles including the amazing story of John Atcherley Taylor (A fraudster Down Under), which was told in seven parts!

As a result of my endeavours, there are now over 100 articles on the Atcherley family history website. I still feel that I have only scratched the surface however – there is so much more to tell, about many of the Atcherleys who have already featured in my stories, and about many others who have yet to take their turn in the spotlight. There is more work to do, in 2016 and beyond.

2. Complete the update of this website’s family tree pages

Goal achieved. Starting on 2 January and ending on 11 February, I updated the eight family tree pages (out of a total of 12) which I had neglected in 2014. Some minor, additional tweaks followed in the ensuing months – along with a major change to the Richard of Stanwardine page in June 2015 as a result of Revising the roots of the family tree. School registers, and the 1939 Register, have recently provided me with dates of birth for quite a few Atcherley family members, so another round of updates now beckons!

In connection with this goal, I also stated that I would “look into the possibility of getting some of [my] additional genealogical information [on the female line descendants of the Atcherleys, and allied families] added to this site through static or dynamic family tree pages”, but I made no promises! On 5 September however I launched a new Atcherley Family Tree section to the website, providing the opportunity to start adding some of the additional information referred to above.

3. Make at least two visits to The National Archives to view documents held there relating to the Atcherley family

Goal achieved. I made the first of my TNA visits of 2015 on 6 June, when I photographed documents from the mid-1900s relating to Richard and David Atcherley (see Richard Atcherley in pre-WW2 Germany – Part 1 and Part 2, plus The disappearance of David Atcherley), along with others from around 1700 which resulted resulted in Thomas and Jane Atcherley: Evidence of matrimony in a case at Chancery. I also photographed some of the wildlife in the grounds, including the family of swans below! My second trip was on 12 December, when I focussed exclusively on extracting data from the 1939 Register, digitised by Findmypast, which can be viewed for free at TNA (see Census etc. 1930s). I didn’t look at all the 1939 Register pages I wanted to during my visit, and there are more documents at TNA that I would like to see, so further visits in 2016 are on the cards.

4. Approach the College of Arms regarding Atcherley information held

Goal achieved. On 26 July 2015 I finally sent an enquiry to the College of Arms via their website. I did not receive a response and so sent a further enquiry. The reply to this was in the form of a letter inviting me to telephone one of the Heralds during one of nine specified weeks ranging from the week beginning 2 November 2015 to the week beginning 28 November 2016! I made that call on 21 December, to have the following news broken to me: the Atcherley family provided the College of Arms with very little information, which means that the College of Arms in turn has nothing to add to my existing research. A disappointing outcome, but at least now I know what the score is.

5. Re-join the Shropshire Family History Society

Goal achieved! I re-joined the Shropshire Family History Society while attending “WDYTYA Live” on 16 Apr 2015. Maybe in 2016 I will contribute to the society’s journal?

6. Join the Society of Genealogists

Goal achieved! I joined the Society of Genealogists on 1 February 2015. The £10 joining fee was waived thanks to a promotional code from my Findmypast First membership. In 2016 I really ought to make more of my membership, by visiting the SoG library in London.

7. Attend “WDYTYA Live” in Birmingham

Goal achieved. I attended all three days of “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” from 16 to 18 Apr 2015. My report Who Do You Think You Are? Live, 2015 (Part 1) covers only a fraction of what I saw while there. It’s a bit late in the day to be adding Part 2 now, but who knows, maybe I will pull something together anyway. Hopefully before “WDYTYA Live” 2016, which will also be held at Birmingham’s NEC, and which I also hope to attend (along with the Guild of One Name Studies’ annual conference perhaps?).

8. Contribute to a transcription project

Goal achieved. I started transcribing at BillionGraves.com on 7 March 2015 and on 6 Apr 2015 I transcribed my 1,000th name. I also started my own ‘transcription project’ by adding content to my Waters Upton One Place Study website. So far I have added abstracts from parish registers, wills, admons and probate calendars, plus marriage licenses, and transcripts of newspaper reports relating to the parish. In this way I have made many hundreds of records freely available to other genealogists online.

9. Support campaigns against further cuts to archive, library, museum and heritage services

Goal achieved. On 7 Jan 2015 I signed an online petition at Change.org calling on George Osborne to reverse current and future cuts to the Imperial War Museum’s annual operating grant. I also made a donation to help promote the petition further and continued to support the campaign via social media. The cuts at IWM meant that its superb library containing documents such as Sir Harold Atcherley’s diary (kept when when he was a Far East Prisoner of War) was to be closed and its collection dispersed. Those plans were dropped but the library’s opening hours and staff have been reduced. Plans for charging users were also introduced, but were dropped following further campaigning (see the Love Imperial War Museum Library blog for further details).

I also signed another petition at Change.org, calling for the reversal of cuts to the Library of Birmingham, which includes Birmingham’s archive services (The Iron Room, a brilliant genealogy and family history resource). Sadly, the library’s large operating costs combined with Government cuts to local authority grants left Birmingham City Council with little room for manoeuvre. Massive cuts have been made, leading to greatly reduced opening hours for the library and the archives within, plus the loss of many skilled library and archive staff. The campaign to reverse those cuts continues, led by Friends of the Library of Birmingham.

Through social media I have also supported the wider campaign to save libraries across the UK from cuts and closures, and other more specific campaigns such as the one to Save North Devon Record Office and Local Studies Centre (which has secured a stay of execution with funding provided until April 2016).

The Government will no doubt continue it’s campaign to cripple public services in 2016 and beyond, which means that those of us who believe in the importance of preserving our heritage (and access to it) have lots more to do in the years ahead.

10. Campaign for the digitisation of historic English and Welsh birth, marriage and death registers

This is the goal which was ‘overtaken by events’. On 6 Feb 2015 the Society of Genealogists confirmed that the Government had accepted an amendment to the Deregulation Bill, which later completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent. It became the Deregulation Act 2015 – the provisions on BMD records, at legislation.gov.uk, start here.

Although I had not needed to write to my MP on this matter at the beginning of 2015, as the months went by following the Deregulation Act I began to wonder if I should write to ask why nothing further had been done. But this month (December 2015) the GRO finally started to hold consultation meetings with representatives from the genealogy community. In time (probably measured in years rather than months I fear) we will hopefully see regulations tabled and agreed in Parliament which will at last provide better access to historic English and Welsh BMD records.

Perhaps I should have replaced this goal with another. In retrospect, maybe I did! Getting an Atcherley DNA project off the ground is something I had in mind for some time before 2015. This year, at long last, I finally managed to achieve this long standing goal – see the DNA page on this website. Having launched the project, in 2016 I will need to do more to promote it and recruit more participants.

Picture credits. Swans on the lake at The National Archives, Kew: photo by the author.

Atcherleys on the eve of World War Two – the 1939 Register

A fascinating glimpse into the lives of Atcherley family members across England on the eve of the Second World War has been provided by the release, on Monday, of the 1939 Register. Available at Findmypast, in partnership with The National Archives (TNA), the register is a unique and valuable record. Gathering less information than a census, but more than an electoral roll, the register was not a static record. Changes of names (and also the deaths) of those listed were recorded, and post-war the register was used in the establishment of the National Health Service. The NHS then maintained and updated the register until 1991.

National Registration Identity Card 1943Plans for the compilation of the national register had been made in advance. Britain’s declaration of war on 3 September 1939 was therefore followed by National Registration Day just a few weeks later on 29 September. It recorded the name, address, date of birth, marital status and occupation of almost every man, woman and child in the land, household by household, and was used as the basis for issuing identity cards. Since the 1931 census of England and Wales was destroyed during the course of the war, and no census was taken in 1941 because of the conflict, the 1939 Register fills a 30 year gap between the census of 1921 and that of 1951.

Of course, the census of 1921 is not yet available to the public (we will not see it until 2022) and viewing the 1951 census is, at best, a distant prospect. For those with family history mysteries in the more recent past, and genealogists tracing descendants of families found in earlier records, into the 20th century, the potential value of the 1939 register is huge.

Until Findmypast’s release of the 1939 Register, copies of records relating to deceased people listed on it could be obtained from the National Health Service Information Centre at a cost of £42 per person. (This service only came about within the last few years following an appeal to the Information Commissioner.) The current situation is therefore a big improvement in many ways. For a cost of between £6.95 and £3.66 (depending on the package of credits purchased) it is now possible to view a whole page from the register (with details of those people likely to be still living redacted) online, and download the image to your computer.

These costs, even though much-reduced, have drawn some criticism. For those who only want to see a small number of records, I really don’t see the fees charged as much of a barrier. For those of us conducting one-name or one-place studies on the other hand, the expense involved in looking at a larger number of records is prohibitive. No doubt the cost will come down in time (though it seems that the records will not become part of a standard Findmypast subscription), but only after the company has recovered its not inconsiderable outlay on conserving the original documents, digitising them and transcribing their contents. (For those able to get to The National Archives, the online records can be viewed there without charge.)

The good news is that a surprising amount of information can be extracted from the 1939 Register, wherever you are in the world, for free. A basic search for the name or names of interest to you will hopefully yield one or more pages of results listing, for each person: first and last names, birth year, and the Borough or District, and county, in which they lived. For each person, clicking a Preview button then reveals a little additional information. (Originally this included the TNA Reference for the record, this has now been replaced with the name of one of the other residents of the household, if applicable. Although Findmypast has publicly stated that the TNA reference would be reinstated, this has not happened. This handy tool can be used to extract the reference from the URL of a record preview page.)

Of course, as with any dataset of this nature, finding the person or people you are looking for is not always straightforward. Findmypast were contractually obliged to meet a transcription accuracy rate in readable records at at least 98%. I would however be surprised if that has happened with the Atcherleys. So far I have found members of this family indexed under the following surnames: Atcherely, Acherley, Archerley, Atcherty, Atcheley, Atsherley, Atchenley, Atchesley, Acchesley, Atlerley, ?cherley, Atch?ley, Atchway, Stekerley. And, in two cases where the surname completed defeated the transcriber, “~???”. On top of that, Phyllis Atcherley is indexed solely under the surname which she acquired by marriage in 1948, Glasspoole. Finding Atcherleys who are lost in transcription is of course not a new game for me.

The other search fields (besides first and last names) available for hunting people in the 1939 register – such as Date of Birth – can be very useful for tracking down those whose names have been mangled (whether on the original register or by the transcriber). But their usefulness goes beyond this. Once you have found someone for whom you do not have a date of birth, for example, you can repeat your search with the same parameters but with the addition of a possible month as well as year of birth and then, once you have narrowed the date down to the correct month, continue the process with the day of the month.

1939 Register search screenPart of the 1939 Register advanced search screen on the Findmypast website.

This can be (and usually is) the long-winded process it sounds like, but if you have a birth registration quarter and/or a baptism date, plus a good supply of patience, you have a starting point from which you can work backwards. Be warned, you may find some dates of birth which do not match up with those given in people’s death records. I have found a number of cases where the day and month looks correct but the year of birth was changed by those who had memory lapses or who wished to appear a little younger than they really were! Another date of birth (that of Ethel May Atcherley, née Hall) was completely different to that in her death record, but was probably the correct version and has provided a clue which might help me to find out who she was before she became an Atcherley.

A similar process can be followed to establish whether a person was single, married, widowed or divorced, or in some cases to confirm the name of a street or place where you suspect (based on other records such as electoral rolls, directories, BMD records or passenger lists for example) a person was living. If you know or can make a good guess as to the field of work in which a person was engaged in 1939, you may even be able to obtain confirmation by adding one or more carefully chosen words into the occupation field. For many ‘housewives’ the phrase used was “unpaid domestic duties”.

Using clues such as the TNA reference number (see above) and the totals given on the preview page for the numbers of other people in the household, you can also link together all the people for whom records are open into household units.

Using the above techniques, I have compiled a detailed list of the Atcherley family members who can be viewed in the 1939 Register, presented in a similar fashion to my census abstracts on a new page: Census etc. 1930s. To the information which I have been able to extract for free, I have added information from other sources, plus notes and corrections. In the case of the small number of households for which I have paid to view register pages (two of those households were on the same page), I have also added the additional data found on them.

The result of my efforts is an incomplete but (I hope) still valuable overview of where the various members of the Atcherley family were, and what they doing, on the eve of the last World War. I won’t look at every single household in this article, but I will give a number of examples of what I have found.

Samuel Atcherley of Altrincham in Cheshire was a calico print designer according to the census of 1901 and 1911. My interrogation of the 1939 Register database revealed that the phrase “designer calico” formed part of Sam’s job title nearly 30 years later in 1939. Sadly, so did the word ‘unemployed’. Adding the address given in Samuel’s burial record of 1940 – Hawthorn Avenue – shows that he was living there in 1939. The birth date given for his wife Olive (Gidman) – 17 Oct 1873 – was clearly in error, as her birth was registered in the first quarter of that year and she was baptised on 30 Mar 1873. From these facts it appears that she was probably born on 17 Oct 1872, and that the registration of her birth was delayed for well over two months.

Another Samuel Atcherley living in Cheshire was Samuel Thomas Atcherley. A Kelly’s Directory of 1929 shows that this Samuel was then a fried fish dealer, of 7 Wilmslow Road in Cheadle (the same address he gave when he remarried in 1947). Including Wilmslow Road in my search parameters confirmed that he was there in 1939, and I also scored a hit with the word ‘fish’ in the Occupation field (but not with ‘fried’, ‘dealer’, ‘shop’, ‘retailer’,  etc.).

Finding Mary Elizabeth Hope Atcherley in Chester County Borough was no surprise as I know from other sources that she was living at Laburnum Cottage, Dee Banks from 1936 until her death in 1963. But where was her sister Hester Mary Eleanor Atcherley, who lived there with her? Looking at all results for the page on which Mary (or Hope as she was usually known) appeared reveals a “Hect? M E Acherley”, apparently born on 18 April 1895 (very close to the date given in Hester’s baptism record and a contemporary newspaper birth notice: 15 April 1895).

Finding sisters Marian and Kate Mary Atcherley was more challenging. However I knew that they had been living at Aldenham Avenue, Radlett, Hertfordshire shortly before 1939. A search for Marian (with name variants) born 1860, living in Hertfordshire revealed “Marion ~???” and she still showed up when I added Aldenham to the Place Keywords. On the next line of the page was “Kate M ~???”. Despite Kate’s date of birth being given as 1 September 1931 (rather than 1867!) I remain convinced that she was Kate Mary Atcherley, Marian’s sister.

One of the Atcherleys who I have not found on the 1939 Register is David Francis William Atcherley (see David Atcherley’s World War Two – Part 1). As David was serving with the RAF, his exclusion is not a surprise (service personnel were mostly excluded from the register). However, his twin brother Richard (also of the RAF, but presumably on leave) was on the register – and what interesting company he was keeping! As “Llewellyn R A Atcherley (Richard)” he was recorded at an address in Richmond along with nine other people, including Sir Henry Barwell, Lady Anne G Barwell and their daughter Mary. The one resident whose presence with Richard Atcherley makes sense is Geoffrey D Stephenson. He was a member of the Royal Air Force aerobatic team before the war.

Staffordshire - Batchacre Cottages, Shebdon
Batchacre Cottages, Shebdon, Staffordshire

As already mentioned, I have of course not been able to resist looking at some actual 1939 Register pages. The first was the one on which my grandparents Fred and Louisa Atcherley appeared, living at Batchacre Cottages in the Staffordshire parish of Shebdon. The redacted record on the line below them would be for their daughter, my mother, who died in 2013. I learned nothing new about Fred and Louisa (nor would I learn anything new if I sent a scan of Mum’s death certificate to Findmypast to get her record opened). However it was interesting to see the other farm workers who lived alongside them, and to see the farmer who Fred almost certainly worked for – a view of the wider picture of which my grandparents’ lives formed a part.

The couple living ‘next door’ to Fred and Louisa were of particular interest. I recognised the name George Ernest Nagington as soon as I saw it, as Mary, his wife, was born Mary Atcherley and was a first cousin of Fred’s. I knew about George and Mary, and their children (two of whom were likely to be named in the redacted entries making up the remainder of the Nagington household). But I did not know that they had been neighbours of Fred, Louisa and Mum. I remember that when I first learned of their existence, and told Mum, she said that there were Nagington children at her school. Thanks to the 1939 Register, I think I have grounds for believing that the Nagingtons Mum knew of were possibly, unknown to her, second cousins!

Picture credits. National Registration Identity Card: Public domain image taken from Wikimedia Commons. Findmypast 1939 Register advanced search screen: screen grab from Findmypast website. Batchacre Cottages, Shebdon: photo © Copyright Andy and Hilary, taken from Geograph and adapted, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence.


A fraudster Down Under: Robert Atcherley Taylor – Part 7

< Back to Part 6

Released early from a 14 year stretch on Norfolk Island, which had itself replaced a sentence of death, Robert Atcherley Taylor returned to Tasmania. His many months of good work as a convict-chaplain, which had won him his freedom, also served to prepare him for life on the outside. He was ready to go straight. By which I mean, straight back to swindling anyone gullible enough to be taken in by the well-practiced persona of Parson Taylor.

The first indications that Robert had returned to Tasmania, and to his old ways, surfaced in December 1836. Hobart’s Colonial Times reported the following complaint, made to Hobart Town Police on the 23rd of that month:

Quote A gentleman complained of having been cheated and defrauded by a man who called himself Taylor, who turned out to be a man well known in this Colony among the old hands, by the appellation of Parson Taylor. It appeared he had lately come from Sydney, and introduced himself to Mr. Bent and others, and among the rest to the complainant, as having been employed by the Bishop at Sydney to inspect the schools in this Colony, and by his plausible manner obtained of the complainant credit and money to the amount of forty pounds, and then took his leave for Launceston.

The clerical appearance of the sham parson induced complainant to give him a letter of introduction to a friend at Launceston, of whom by producing a forged letter or order purporting to have been written by the complainant the sham parson had got ten pounds. Complainant now prayed for justice, and his statement was taken in order to be forwarded to Launceston to stay the Taylor’s proceedings. Unquote

Tasmania, Cataracts near LauncestonCataracts near Lanceston

This complaint prompted the Police Magistrate to issue a warrant for Robert’s commitment to Gaol, to await his trial. The warrant, dated 14 February 1837, was addressed to the Chief District Constable and to the Keeper of the Gaol at Launceston and stated:

Quote These are to command you, the said Constable, forthwith to convey and deliver into the custody of the said Keeper of the said Gaol, the body of the said Robert Taylor, and you, the said Keeper, are hereby required and commanded hereupon immediately to receive the said Robert Taylor into your custody, securely to detain and keep, until the next Sittings of the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace, to be holden at Launceston. Unquote

Unfortunately – for everyone except Robert – this warrant proved to be insufficient when the subject of its directions appeared at the Supreme Court about two months later. Launceston’s Cornwall Chronicle of 19 April 1837 reported that “A notorious fellow named Taylor, commonly called Parson Taylor, (from the circumstance of his practicing his swindling propensities under the garb of religion), was discharged by proclamation, when placed at the Bar of the Supreme Court for trial.” Extracts from the warrant then followed, and the newspaper indignantly concluded: “The reader will not find in the above any order to arraign the parson at the Bar of the Supreme Court.”

The long arm of the law did eventually take a more secure hold of Robert Atcherley Taylor. He appeared at the Launceston Quarter Sessions of 31 August 1837 and was found guilty of obtaining £10 under false pretences (“by means of a Counterfeit letter”) from former convict Britton Jones. Even then it seems that doubts were expressed in some quarters regarding the legality of Robert’s conviction, although the Cornwall Chronicle was confident that justice had been done:

Quote The man, called Parson Taylor, was tried at the Court of Quarter Sessions last Thursday, upon a charge of swindling, and sentenced to seven year’s transportation. Some people doubt the legality of putting the man upon his trial. We have no doubt about it. The Chairman of the Court is not likely, in our opinion, to err in his judgement; at all events there is no doubt of the man’s guilt—and should he escape, through being placed illegally upon his trial—from the punishment due to the particular crime he was charged with, he will be committed to take his trial upon other charges of a similar nature—that can be satisfactorily proved against him.

We would rejoice to see this Parson Taylor well punished, because his swindling has been carried on under the cloak of Religion! Unquote

It appears that Robert served much of his seven year sentence at Port Arthur. He was recorded there in a convict muster taken on 31 December 1841. It is also from that year that entries in the Conduct Register for Robert include several references to Port Arthur – and at least five occurrences of the word ‘Misconduct’.

The punishment meted out for Robert’s misbehaviour ranged from solitary confinement (for 24 hours in one case, and seven days in another) to “Six months hard labor on the Roads” and even a full 12 months hard labour. These must have been very dark times for Robert Atcherley Taylor, although it has to be said that he was used to living through such times and in most if not all cases he had only himself to blame for them. It was not as if he was unaware of the consequences his actions would bring!

Thankfully, brighter days were to come for Robert. It appears that on 1 January 1844 he received a Ticket of Leave, which would have allowed him a degree of freedom (he could work for himself but had to remain within a defined area, report regularly to the local authorities, and attend church services). Even better news came in the form of a Government Notice, issued by the Colonial Secretary’s Office on 24 July 1844, which began:

The periods for which the undermentioned persons were transported expiring at the date placed after their respective names, Certificates of their Freedom may be obtained then, or at any subsequent period, upon application of the Comptroller-General of Convicts, Hobart Town, or at that of a Police Magistrate in the interior.

There followed a list of convict ships, with the names of some of those who had been transported on them given beneath one. The only entry under Indefatigable was “Robert A Taylor, 31st August”. Robert wasted little time in obtaining his Certificate of Freedom, which was dated 4 September 1844.

Tasmania, Natives on the Ouse RiverNatives on the Ouse River

Free once more, it appears that Robert at last saw sense and settled into a way of life which was very unfamiliar to him: that of an honest man. He settled at Ouse Bridge, in the Tasmanian county of Cumberland, where he became master of the children’s school. It was recorded that Robert “exercised the duties of his office in a most able and creditable manner”.

It was at Ouse Bridge, on 31 December 1845, that Robert, in another departure from a path which he had followed for so many years, got married – at the age of 61. His bride was a widow by the name of Ann Gilkes. Ann was almost certainly the Ann Clarke who married Elijah Gilkes at New Norfolk in Tasmania on 12 May 1834; she was a widow then too. I have been unable to find out more about Ann’s life prior to her marriage to Elijah, or her fate after she wed Robert.

But what of Robert’s fate? A man who had spent most of his adult life weaving a web of deceit and paying heavily for his crimes, he was now free and employed in a position of great trust. How long could that last? The answer is “not long” – but the reason for this, which you will discover in the following statement, is probably not the one you were expecting.

Quote George Chadwick being Sworn States I am a Constable in the Hamilton Police. On Thursday morning the fifteenth day of October Instant between Eight and Nine O’ Clock I was near to the Ouse Bridge on this side. I saw Robert Atcherley Taylor come on to the Bridge on horseback. I saw the horse stumble and Taylor struck it with a stick and immediately the horse and Taylor fell over the Bridge into the water. I called out for help and ran near to the bridge and on the edge of the water and saw Taylor swimming to the opposite bank which he was unable to reach and was carried down by the force of the stream. He was under the water several times for about one hundred yards, when he called ‘I am going’. A man at this time jumped into the water but was unable to get hold of Taylor, he was still washed down sometimes under and sometimes above the water. Another man jumped in and caught hold of Taylor but could not hold him and the stream washed him about five or six hundred yards further down his face being under water, another man jumped in and pulled Taylor to the side and pulled him out of the water. … Unquote

Constable Chadwick’s statement was given in evidence on 16 October 1845 at the inquest into Robert’s death, which had occurred the previous day. The jury’s verdict was that Robert had lost his life due to suffocation and drowning in the River Ouse, into which he had been precipitated by accident and misfortune. What a dramatic and tragic ending to the story of Robert Atcherley Taylor – a fraudster who cheated himself out of many years of liberty, a teacher who never learned his lesson until very late in life, and a pretended parson who, in the end, saw the light and redeemed his soul before he went to meet his maker.

Picture credits. Cataracts near Launceston: Adapted from a public domain image at Wikimedia Commons. Natives on the Ouse River: Adapted from a public domain image at Wikimedia Commons (painting by John Glover dated 1838).


[1] Colonial Times (Hobart), 27 Dec 1836, page 7. Copy viewed at Trove. The report relating to Robert Taylor was also published in the Launceston Advertiser, 29 Dec 1836, page 3 (copy viewed at Trove) and The Sydney Monitor, 11 Jan 1837, page 3 (copy viewed at Trove).
[2] The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston), 19 Apr 1837, page 1. Copy viewed at Trove.
[3] Launceston Advertiser, 7 Sep 1837, page 2. Copy viewed at Trove.
[4] Comprehensive Registers of Convicts, 1804 – 1853 (Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, item CON22/1/2, page 443). Copies viewed at Ancestry – Tasmania, Australia, Convict Court and Selected Records, 1800-1899, and at Linc Tasmania.
[5] Carmen Callil (2014), Bad Faith. Pages 24-5. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[6] The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston), Sat 2 Sep 1837, page 2. Copy viewed at Trove.
[7] Van Diemen’s Land, Return of Male and Female Convicts having their distribution throughout the Colony on the 31st December 1841 (The National Archives, Kew, series HO10, piece 51, folio 212). Copy viewed at Ancestry – New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849.
[8] Tickets of Leave, 1810-75. At: NSW State Records website, accessed 3 Oct 2015.
[9] Colonial Times (Hobart), 6 Aug 1844, page 4. Copy viewed at Trove.
[10] Marriage of Robert Atchuley [= Atcherley] Taylor and Ann Gilks registered Hamilton, Tasmania, 1845; Reference RGD37/1/4 no 2153. Copy of register entry viewed at Linc Tasmania. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch M13531-3, Film 1368287.
[11] New Norfolk, Buckingham County, Tasmania marriage register, entry 159 dated (Elijah Gilkes and Ann Clarke); Reference RGD36/1/2 no 2615. Copy of register viewed at Linc Tasmania.
[12] The Courier (Hobart), 21 Oct 1846, page 2. Copy viewed at Trove.
[13] Findings, Depositions and Associated Papers Relating to Coroners’ Inquests (Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, item SC195/1/19/1554 – Robert Atcherley Taylor, findings of inquisition and supporting evidence). Copy viewed at Linc Tasmania.

A fraudster Down Under: Robert Atcherley Taylor – Part 6

< Back to Part 5

A death sentence would, in most cases, bring a person’s life story to a rather unpleasant end – but not in the case of Robert Atcherley Taylor! The judgement of death initially recorded following Robert’s conviction in Sydney for “obtaining money under false pretences” was not carried out. Instead, his sentence was “Commuted to 14 years and hard labour in Chains”.

Leg irons from Old Melbourne Gaol

As had happened back in England following his original conviction for a fraud in 1811, after the Supreme Criminal Court in Sydney had passed judgement in 1827 Robert was transferred to a prison hulk. From there, he was sent on a voyage of almost a thousand miles, to what must have been the British Empire’s remotest – and harshest – penal colony.

Norfolk Island was described by one author as “a place of punishment and safe-keeping for… the worst class of offenders—men of desperate and almost irreclaimable character”. When the advisability of retaining Norfolk Island as an “ultra-penal settlement” was considered in 1848, it was recommended that it was kept “as the severest punishment, short of death, for any criminal.” This was the place which was set to be Robert’s home for 14 years.

Among the few official records I have found relating to Robert’s time on Norfolk Island is the 1828 census of New South Wales. This shows Robert Taylor, of the Indefatigable, arrived 1812, district of residence “Norfolk Isl’d”. There is also a duplicate Certificate of Freedom for Robert, issued on 28 December 1830, which has a note written across it stating that the certificate was “Cancelled before Signing it having been discovered that Taylor was transferred to Norfolk Island by the Supreme Court Sydney 3d Sept 1827 for 14 years, where he is now”.

Norfolk Island

Robert was present on Norfolk Island in January 1834 when some of his fellow convicts attempted a rebellion. This failed, and 22 of the prisoners were executed. The settlement’s Commandant, James Morisset, left the island and was replaced, in March 1834, by Major Joseph Anderson. Among the changes Anderson brought about on Norfolk Island was the delivery of religious services to the prisoners – by two of their own. According to George William Rusden’s History of Australia:

Quote Anderson discovered amongst his subjects two prisoners educated respectively for the ministry, in the Churches of England and Rome. He astounded them by proposing that they should be themselves ‘placed in a position fit and encouraging for repentance,’ and do what they could for the good of their fellows. Unquote

The prisoner “educated for the ministry” in the Church of England was none other than Robert Atcherley Taylor, and the story of how he became a convict-chaplain was told in more detail in the Sydney Truth of 19 February 1922. An article entitled “Norfolk Island in Major Anderson’s Time” referred to Anderson’s assertion that “no clergyman could be induced to reside on the island” and described, in the Major’s own words, his solution to that problem:

Quote In my office there were two or three large manuscript books, very properly called ‘record books’, for in them was written the name of every convict on the island, with columns showing his first, last and all known crimes and sentences—all and everything previously known about him. I was in the habit of studying these books often during my leisure hours, and one day I made the discovery that a prisoner of the name of Taylor had been a chaplain on board a British man-of-war before he was transported for forgery. Soon after I found that man named Sheahan had been educated to be a Roman Catholic priest. …

I first sent for Taylor, then for Sheahan, and spoke to them both very seriously. I informed them that I had discovered from the register their former history; what they had been and what they had been sent here for. I solemnly added that it was never too late to mend—to repent—to use their best endeavors for their own and others’ good. I then observed that our present method of keeping the Sabbath holy, and with any reverence or benefit, appeared to amount to nothing, to be almost a sinful mockery in fact. But as I now knew their former profession and capacities, I thought that with the help of God and their earnest prayers for pardon and grace to amend their lives, they might do much to improve our present conditions; to show, at least, that we had some sense of spiritual duties, and a desire to worship God publicly as best we could.

I then told them that I would take upon myself the responsibility of building and fitting up for them temporary places of worship, with a pew for myself and superintendents to attend occasionally, if they would undertake to perform the services of their respective churches twice every Sunday to the prison population; that I would remove them from the barracks, and build them separate huts, giving each a well-behaved convict to wait upon them.

They were both delighted and promised with God’s help to do their best. I said, ‘This must not be hurried; I will give you a week to think it over, and to commune in your own hearts’. They soon returned with many expressions of gratitude, earnestly urging me to give them a trial. I did so, giving immediate orders for completing the necessary accommodation. This was soon done. On the following Sunday the whole of the convicts were marched to their different new places of worship, where Taylor and Sheahan officiated with the usual morning prayers and a sermon. Unquote

Anderson, JosephMajor Anderson (pictured right) attended the services of his convict chaplains occasionally and was “much pleased”. He said he felt “that if I could but shut my eyes and forget by whom I was surrounded, I should at once say that I had seldom marked a more quiet and attentive congregation.”

Robert’s ministry was also witnessed by two Quakers, James Backhouse and George Washington Walker, who visited Norfolk Island from 4 March to 29 April 1835. On Sunday 8 March they accompanied Major Anderson to the congregation of Protestant prisoners, and observed:

Quote The prayers, &c. of the Episcopal Church were read by a prisoner, who is said to have been brought up as a minister of that denomination of Christians. He delivered a very appropriate address, or sermon, including an uncompromising denunciation of sin, and an exhibition of the hopes of the gospel. Were his own life an exemplification of the efficacy of the doctrines he preaches, and his mind so kept under the influence of the Holy Spirit, that the baptizing power thereof might freely accompany his ministry, much good might be expected from his labours. I would not be understood to intimate that no benefit results from them, nor yet that the man does not in some degree feel what he preaches; and he honestly acknowledged, in the course of his address, his own want of proper conformity to what he so strongly urged as necessary for himself and others. The same individual also reads prayers in the jail, and in the hospital, on First-days, and he attends to the opening of the Protestant adult school. Unquote

One week later the Quakers attended the congregation of the Protestant prisoners once more. Backhouse wrote that the prayers were read “by R. A. Taylor, whose sermon was on the necessity of the influence of the Holy Spirit, and contained evidence that he is not a stranger to the principles of spiritual religion. Taylor says, that in a former part of his life, he preached different doctrine, not founded on Scripture, but that he did so in ignorance and darkness.”

Robert’s sermons do seem to have a positive impact on some members of his captive congregation. In 1836 The Colonist, in Sydney, published some lines of poetry, prefaced as follows:

Quote The following lines will be read with interest when it is known that they were written at Norfolk Island by a convict named John Walton, the ringleader of the prisoners who, some years ago, piratically seized the Lady Wellington and carried her into the Bay of Islands, where they were discovered and the vessel retaken by Captain Duke; the lines were addressed to another prisoner named Robert Taylor, who had formerly been a chaplain in His Majesty’s Navy, and who has been officiating in that capacity at Norfolk Island to his fellow-prisoners for some years, but the period of his probation there having expired, they were sent to him prior to his departure. Unquote

John Walton’s lines began:

ERE you depart, receive this compliment,
‘Tis due, and in sincerity I tend it,
It may be some encouragement to find,
The many anxious hours you have spent in contemplation
Have not been spent in vain, the Scripture says
The heavenly angels pleased, announce their joy
Whene’er a sinner truly seeks his God! …

Although he had been sent to Norfolk Island for 14 years, Robert Atcherley Taylor left that place after serving less than ten. Major Anderson’s ‘church movement’ had been a success, to the extent that real clergymen were willing to accept appointments on the island. As a result, Robert – along with Sheahan – was recommended for a commutation of sentence.

Both men were also paid one shilling per day each “for the good work they had performed”, for the whole of the period they had acted as chaplains. Which meant that Robert was once more a free man, and had some money earned from honest work.

> On to Part 7

Picture credits. Leg irons: Adapted from an image by GSV’s Flickr photostream and used under a Creative Commons licence. Map showing location of Norfolk Island: based on a public domain image at Wikimedia Commons. Joseph Anderson: Adapted from a public domain image at Wikimedia Commons.


[1] Sydney Gaol Entrance Book (State Archives NSW, series 2514, roll 851, entry dated 13 Jun 1827 for Robert Taylor). Copy viewed at Ancestry – New South Wales, Australia, Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930.
[2] Norfolk Island. At: Lonely Planet (website), accessed 1 Oct 2015.
[3] Robert Montgomery Martin (1851), The British Colonies; their History, Extent, Condition, and Resources, volume III, Pages 106-7. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[4] 1828 census of New South Wales (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Series 1273, volume PQRST, number 109). Copy viewed at Ancestry – 1828 New South Wales, Australia Census (Australian Copy).
[5] Butts Of Certificates Of Freedom 1827-1867 (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Series 12210, reel 986, number 30/914). Copy viewed at Ancestry – New South Wales, Australia, Certificates of Freedom, 1810-1814, 1827-1867.
[6] Norfolk Island Penal Establishment. At: NSW State Records website, accessed 3 Oct 2015.
[7] George William Rusden (1883), History of Australia, Volume II, page 118. Copy viewed at the Internet Archive.
[8] Truth (Sydney), 19 Feb 1922, page 12. Australiana: Norfolk Island in Major Anderson’s Time. Copy viewed at Trove. (Note: The quoted words of Joseph Anderson in this article were most likely taken from Anderson’s book Recollections of a Peninsula Veteran, published 1913.)
[9] James Backhouse (1888), Extracts from the letters of James Backhouse (third edition). First Part, pages 63-4 and 65-6. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[10] The Colonist (Sydney), 29 Sep 1836, page 7. Copy viewed at Trove.

A fraudster Down Under: Robert Atcherley Taylor – Part 5

< Back to Part 4

Quote TWO DOLLARS REWARD, for the Apprehension of a MAN who goes by the Name of PARSON TAYLOR; he stands about 6 feet high; having swindled from the undersigned, a Pair of Trowsers and Stockings, THOMAS WATKINS, Kent-street. Unquote — The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 5 Dec 1825.

There could only be one man in Sydney at the end of 1825 meeting the description given above by Thomas Watkins – Robert Atcherley Taylor. He was up to his old tricks within two months of receiving his Certificate of Freedom. Although to be fair, he had said in 1824 that he wanted to go to Sydney “to procure myself a little wearing apparel (of which I am now completely destitute)”. Robert had also said that he wanted to return to England, but not to return to his “evil propensities”. He had made no promises regarding his conduct in the colony of New South Wales however.

What I find astonishing is not that Robert gave in to temptation so quickly, but that he was, despite his record and the above notice in the Sydney Gazette, employed as a Clerk to the Magistrates in the county of Argyle the following year!

The Returns of the Colony (or ‘Blue Books’) of New South Wales for 1826 show that Mr R A Taylor was appointed Clerk to the Bench, to the District Constables, and to the Petty or Ordinary Constables on 1 March that year. Robert was appointed to these positions by the Bench, with the approval of the Governor (Sir Ralph Darling). Each position paid an annual salary, of £60, £52 and £40 Sterling respectively.

Alexander MacleayNow that he was a free man in gainful employment, working for the local magistrates and police, surely Robert would stay out of trouble? It seems he did – but only for a year. After this period of apparent probity, Robert Atcherley Taylor then carried out some of the most audacious acts of his criminal career. Doctor David Reid, Esquire, Justice of the Peace, set out the details in a letter dated 18 May 1829, addressed to Colonial Secretary Macleay (pictured left):

Quote In answer to your Letter of the 26th March last, enclosing a Copy of a Letter from the Colonial Auditor, and requesting me to account for the Money advanced by the Colonial Treasurer without delay.

I beg leave to inform you that Robert Taylor, late Clerk to the Bench of Magistrates in Argyle, received the Sum of £150 from the Colonial Treasurer in advance for the Quarter ending 31st March, 1827, for the Salaries of the Police, and that he also received £40 from the Colonial Treasurer in advance of the next Quarter to enable me to give the Constables Money on account of their Salaries, and that it appears that he only paid out of the whole of that Money £33 9s. 4d., leaving a loss on the whole account of £156 10s. 8d., to the correctness of which account I am ready to make Affidavit.

I cannot help saying that it would be very hard on the Magistrates to be personally responsible for the Public Money, until it actually comes into their own hands. The Custom then was to send either the Clerk or the Constable for the whole of the Police Money, and that, in addition to all this loss, the said Taylor forged on me personally to a considerable amount, all which money I was obliged to guarantee to the person to whom he presented the forged order … Unquote

With his financial circumstances considerably improved, and doubtless with the Constables of Argyle county taking a close interest in his whereabouts, Robert put some distance between himself and the scene of his crime. He continued his criminal activities along the way, and not only by forging an order from Dr Reid. The following notice appeared in the Sydney Monitor on 21 Jun 1827:

Quote WHEREAS, on Tuesday the 5th instant, a Person calling himself ROBERT TAYLOR, and Clerk to the Bench of Magistrates at Bong-Bong, passed through Campbell Town, and hired an Entire Horse, with saddle and bridle, of the Undersigned for four days, which he has not since returned; and from other circumstances which have come to the knowledge of the Subscriber, he has reason to believe that the said ROBERT TAYLOR has sold the Horse, or made some improper use of it. This, therefore, is to Caution all Persons not to Purchase the said Horse or if already Purchased, not to detain the same after this Notice, on pain of Prosecution; and any Person returning the Horse, or giving such information as may lead to its discovery, will be handsomely rewarded. The said Horse is a bright Bay, with a star on its forehead, stands. about 15 hands high, about 8 years old, short tail, marked on the sides with the traces, and is low in condition.
Campell Town, June 13, 1827. Unquote
Australia, Sydney Supreme Court, 1848

Robert Atcherley Taylor was not at liberty for long. He was apprehended and, on Monday 27 August 1827, he appeared at the Supreme Criminal Court in Sydney (pictured above). He was not charged with the theft of the Argyle constables’ salaries, but with the fraud of which Dr Reid had been the victim. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser reported the case as follows:

Quote Robert Taylor was indicted for forging, and uttering a certain warrant or order, for the payment of money and the delivery of goods, in the words and figures following:—

‘Inverary, Argyle, April 28, 1827.
Please to pay Mr. Robert Taylor, the sum of £15 sterling, on my account, and send me, by the bearer, a small keg of good tobacco.
To Captain Bunn, Sydney.’

At Inverary, in the county of Argyle, with intent to defraud David Reid, Esq., and also to defraud George Bunn, Esq. of Sydney, on the 28th of April last.

The Attorney General stated the case, and called the following witnesses:—

David Reid, Esq., examined—Is one of the Magistrates for the county of Argyle; the prisoner was, some time ago, clerk to the Bench there; witness being in Sydney, a few days since, met Captain Bunn, with whom he had a running account, and who had money belonging to witness in his hands, and asked to know how the amount stood, and to shew him the balance in his favour; when the account was produced, witness knew nothing whatever about the latter part, upon which Captain Bunn referred to the voucher, which purported to be an order to deliver to the prisoner £15 in money, and a keg of tobacco, and is the issue now before the Court; the signature to the order is genuine, but was never intended to be applied to the purpose which has been superinduced on it; some time ago a change took place in the scale for regulating the salary of the constabulary, in consequence of which, a new form of requisition became necessary; witness accordingly, at the suggestion of the prisoner, affixed his signature to two blank forms, and despatched them, together with a letter, by the prisoner, to the office of the Auditor of Colonial Account, at Sydney, in order that they might be filled up there, according to the new regulation; they were signed ‘David Reid, J.P.’; never gave the prisoner any authority to apply the signature in the way he has done; they were given for the purpose already stated; never gave a blank signature for any mercantile transaction, nor ever added the letters “J. P.” to his signature, on any business of a commercial or private nature.

George Bunn, Esq. stated that, some months ago, it might be about the month of May, the prisoner presented him an order, purporting to be drawn by Dr. Reid, for the payment of some money, and for supplies for his farm; the order before the Court is the same as was so presented, and for which the prisoner obtained value; witness had a settlement of accounts, some time after, with Dr. Reid, when he denied any knowledge of this transaction, upon which witness produced the order, when he admitted the signature to be genuine, but denied that he had ever directed it to be applied to the purpose for which it had been used.

Mr. JUSTICE STEPHEN summed up the evidence, telling the Jury that if they believed, from the testimony before them, that the prisoner had applied the signature of Dr. Reid, though genuine, to a purpose for which it had never been intended, it was in the eye of the law an uttering of a counterfeit instrument.

The Jury found the prisoner Guilty. Remanded. Unquote

The sentence handed down in respect of his fraud was reported by the same newspaper on 5 September 1827. I wonder how Robert reacted when he was told:

Quote Robert Taylor, convicted of uttering a forged instrument, with intent to defraud David Reid, Esq., of Argyle, and G. Bunn, Esq., of Sydney .—Judgment of Death recorded. Unquote

> On to Part 6

Picture credits. Alexander Macleay: Adapted from a public domain image at Wikimedia Commons. Supreme Court, Sydney: Adapted from a public domain image at Project Gutenberg Australia (from Sydney in 1848, published 1848).


[1] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 5 Dec 1825, page 1. Copy viewed at Trove.
[2] Returns of the Colony (‘Blue Books’), 1822-1857 (State Records Authority of New South Wales, Series 1286, Year 1826, Pages 44 and 99-102). Copy viewed at Ancestry – New South Wales, Australia, Returns of the Colony, 1822-1857. Copy viewed at Ancestry – New South Wales, Australia, Returns of the Colony, 1822-1857.
[3] Ralph Darling. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 29 Sep 2015).
[4] Library Committee of the Commonwealth Government (1922), Historical Records of Australia, series I, volume XV, pages 25-26 and 292. Copy viewed at the Internet Archive.
[5] The Monitor (Sydney), 21 Jun 1827, page 7. Copy viewed at Trove.
[6] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 29 Aug 1827, page 3. Copy viewed at Trove.
[7] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 5 Sep 1827, page 2. Copy viewed at Trove.